Just in time for Halloween, the time of year when Like Dolphins begins. I’ve given the latest novel the soundtrack Spotify playlist treatment, following in the footsteps of the same for dadless and The Glimmer Girl.
I’ll try and steer clear of landline spoilers as I go through the featured tracks and artists. The mood captures the late ‘89 period and many of the bands and songs occupy the air space of our spies, Breakspear and Kestrel, on their hedonistic journey from London, to Amsterdam, and East Berlin.
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
Just as David Bowie did on the dadless selection, maybe prevalent due to his status as the Patron Saint of Outsiders, Jagger and Co. recur on Like Dolphins symbolic the spy noir of this story.
The Stones always shot from the hip, ignoring the considerations of head and heart, theirs or anyone else’s for that matter. Visceral and instinctive. Earth bound and after dark.
The mythology of the Stones musical creed, the Southern Blues, concerns a needful man and a meeting at the crossroads; the nether place where destinies meet and paths diverge. The place where The Man Downstairs (more on him later) awaits the live-drop of a needful soul traded in return for musical talent and earthly fame. Much like an agent and handler in the murky world of espionage.
The song Gimme Shelter presents the band both lyrically and musically at their most foreboding and brilliant, telling with granite certainty of the darkness rolling in and all that comes with it, in Like Dolphins’ case, a trio of spies converging in winter mists of Highgate Cemetery, 1989.
Voodoo Ray – Tall Paul/ A Guy Called Gerald
Uplift. The game is afoot for the BARBELL spies, Breakspear and Kestrel.
Gerald’s club classic, presented here by superstar DJ Tall Paul, is laser light on lyrics but super massive on vibe. The unidentifiable sound sources and soulful voice still e-vokes the dry ice, strobe lights, and chemical haze of early rave culture, even on the radio! Much the same as Gerald’s associated band below.
Pacific State – 808 State
Oceanic jungle sounds, beats, electronica and that clarion horn phrase framed the memory of an era for all seasons, as a decade fell away, the Cold War reached its climax and the 90s beckoned for those that survived.
Key fact: the band took their numeric name from the Roland 808 drum machine, its beats and loops a fixture of the time and I chose Shev, the Glimmer girl’s code number 808 as a dual nod to both Ian Fleming and this seminal Manchester band, 808 State
Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
Day must follow night (spoiler alert: until the end of the world) and clear skies after the storm, represented here by the anti-Stones Fab Four. How better to great the first rays of sun, with love warmth and pre-come down positivity as the last track at a Dutch forest rave in winter?
I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges
A getaway tune, for a getaway van? Maybe I’ve told you too much.
Trans-Europa Express – Kraftwerk
Roaring along the autobahn the walled island city lies ahead. The song that pledges much of the gleaming modern West Berlin, even social possibilities involving Berliner former Stooge, Iggy Pop and his thin white keyboard player, Mr Jones.
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
The amorality of espionage brings the Stones back to our ears once more, now putting the case for the defence of The Man Downstairs, he of many names, wealth and taste. A delicious build to the closing statement which reveals it’s not Mr Brownstone in the dock but the person in the mirror.
Ride On Time – Black Box
Omniscient sonic wallpaper, Italian house music which sets the scene, fronted by a beautiful miming model, as with our story, things are not quite how they seem.
I Can’t Get No (satisfaction) – The Rolling Stones
On the radio programme Desert Island Discs British Prime Mrs Thatcher reminisced about hearing the instrumental Telstar on the kitchen wireless with it’s gleaming promise of a white hot future.
The`Stones’ last appearance in this soundtrack takes place in another country, another time, another kitchen and an altogether different outcome.
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Optimism and tragedy are conjoined in this track, the band that perform it and it’s place in relation to Like Dolphins.
Heroes – David Bowie
Of course. The opening line of the single version. Berlin. An optimum performance by an optimum artist and band (Fripp, Eno, Alomar, Murray, Davis, Visconti).
The songs scoring romance; glamour and love in the face of adversity and oppression. The psychology of the Stasi regime and its overbearing physical manifestation; its guns, it’s guards and the impregnable, unscalable Wall.
In the face of all this, ‘We could be us, just for one day.’
A companion piece for the Like Dolphins novel for both music and book lovers to enjoy on the link below. I hope you do so.